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article imageReview: New on DVD for January 28 Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Jan 29, 2014 in Entertainment
This week’s releases include a couple of Jack Lemmon’s classics; a sequel that is as surprising as its predecessor; a contentious portrayal of a controversial man; and an Oscar snub and unexpected nominee.
The April Fools (DVD)
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Paramount Home Media Distribution
Howard Brubaker (Jack Lemmon) is a newly promoted man trapped in a loveless marriage. Catherine’s (Catherine Deneuve) marriage would be ideal if her husband wasn’t a womanizer. When Howard and Catherine meet at a trendy party for New York’s corporate elite, they decide to escape and explore the city instead. Soon the pair find themselves falling in love and deciding to run off to Paris. All they have to do now is tell their spouses.
Sometimes an unhappy situation seems tolerable until you get a taste of how true happiness feels. This is the case for Howard and Catherine, both of whom were resigned to their dissatisfying marriages until they met each other. Howard isn't exactly a smooth talker so his attempts at flirtation are funny, bordering on pathetic. Their trip to the Safari Club is like nothing ever seen with the waitresses dressed in wild animal prints, making them targets for their customers' cork guns. Deneuve is often quiet during their date, but Lemmon has no problem carrying the conversation or the comedy. When they part ways, it is Howard's storyline that carries the most interest; though Catherine's husband's (Peter Lawford) attempts to persuade her to stay are amusing in their audacity.
There are no special features. (Paramount Home Media Distribution)
Bonnie & Clyde (DVD)
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Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Bonnie Parker (Holliday Grainger) & Clyde Barrow's (Emile Hirsch) crime spree is legendary. Fueled by their passion for each other and Bonnie's obsession with fame, the couple committed increasingly dangerous robberies, leaving a trail of blood — and headlines — behind them. Aided by Clyde's sixth sense, they stayed one step ahead of the law until their final, fateful showdown.
America's most notorious couple's story is shared here with great detail, including many of their known associates and numerous run-ins with the police. At its core, the film is about the love that fueled the crime spree. It traces Clyde's pursuit of Bonnie, who he believed was literally the woman of his dreams. In some ways, Clyde is portrayed as a victim of circumstance; first introduced to a life of delinquency by his older brother, then letting it escalate to satisfy Bonnie's lust for danger. In spite of other reports that Bonnie never raised a gun against police, she's very active in the various shootouts from which they escape in this depiction. The chemistry between Hirsch and Grainger is adequate, as is the strain they begin to feel when the body count rises. Holly Hunter and William Hurt have smaller roles, but they bring their years of experience to the picture as a disappointed mother and determined lawman respectively.
Special features include: “Iconography: The Story of Bonnie & Clyde”; “Becoming Bonnie”; and “Becoming Clyde.” (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 (Blu-ray, DVD & Digital copy)
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Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Inventor Flint Lockwood (Bill Hader) thought he had saved the world when he destroyed his most infamous invention — a machine that turned water into food, resulting in cheeseburger rain and spaghetti tornadoes. But Flint soon learns that his invention survived and it is now combining food and animals to create "foodimals"! Flint and his friends embark on an adventurously mouth-watering mission to battle hungry tacodiles, shrimpanzees, hippotatomuses, cheesepiders and other foodimals to save the world — again!
The Live Corp Company, which recruits Flint for his expertise, is like an extreme Google or Apple headquarters with bits of technology sprinkled throughout, including holograms and tube transport systems; eager creators excited to contribute; and a supreme leader whom everyone hopes to meet in-person someday. Even Steve (Neil Patrick Harris) meets his match in an orangutan with a human brain named Barb (Kristen Schaal). The food-imals are fun, creative and vibrant, producing scenes that are busy with a variety of colourful treats for the senses. Filmmakers do a wonderful job imagining this unique world so that its inhabitants are not only cute but almost logical and completely identifiable. There's no doubt animators have once again beat the odds and created an enjoyable sequel to another surprise hit.
Special features include: commentary by directors Cody Cameron and Kris Pearn; deleted scenes; “Anatomy of a Foodimal”; “Production Design: Back in the Kitchen”; “Awesome End Credits”; “Cloudy Café: Who’s On the Menu?”; “Building the Foodimals”; “The Sasquash”; “Delicious Production Design”; Cody Simpson “La Da Dee” music video and making-of-the-video featurette; and four mini-movies. (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)
The Fifth Estate (Blu-ray, DVD & Digital copy)
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DreamWorks Pictures
Based on true events, this film reveals Wikileak’s rebel founder Julian Assange’s (Benedict Cumberbatch) quest to expose fraud and corruption to the widest audience possible: the Internet.
Julian’s passion is what initially leaps off the screen. He believes he is facilitating the next level of investigative journalism, rekindling its mission to deal in truth. The details of how they do what they do is limited to layman’s terms, though a stimulating graphic representation provides greater insight. The visual depiction of the Wikileaks network is also appealing, conveying its ability to exist in any location and appear exponentially greater than it is in actuality. Montages transform otherwise menial tasks into important contributions to the information revolution. Even though director Bill Condon is applauding the purpose and success of Wikileaks, he simultaneously criticizes Julian's approach. Nonetheless, this is an engaging portrayal of what will likely be a historical game changer in news and transparency.
Special features include: “The Submission Platform: Visual Effects”; “In Camera: Graphics”; “Scoring Secrets”; and trailers and TV Spots. (DreamWorks Pictures)
Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa (Blu-ray, DVD & Digital copy)
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Paramount Home Media Distribution
Eighty-six-year-old Irving Zisman (Johnny Knoxville) is a crotchety old man who is unexpectedly saddled with the care of his 8-year-old grandson, Billy (Jackson Nicoll). The two generations of troublemakers soon develop a bond, as they hustle their way across the heartland of America pursuing hijinks and pulling pranks on unsuspecting, real-life people — all of whom had no idea they were starring in a hidden camera film.
Knoxville gained infamy by performing dangerous stunts with his buddies and generally just acting stupid on television. But he isn't exactly the moron he portrays, and he's now taken Jackass and rebranded it for a wider audience. This movie draws from Sacha Baron Cohen's and Candid Camera's style of gags, and it's mostly enjoyable — excluding the fart jokes. Irving is a hard-drinking curmudgeon determined to take advantage of the freedom recently afforded him by his wife's death. But being unexpectedly burdened with Billy threatens to end his fun before it's even begun. While Grandpa flatters or frightens women by hitting on every one he encounters, Billy disturbs people by talking about his mom's crack addiction and asking random men to be his father. Most of the gags are hilarious, which has a lot to do with the marks' reactions, though the setups are well-crafted too. Knoxville's physical transformation is incredible, warranting the film's surprising Oscar nomination for makeup and hairstyling.
Special features include: unrated and theatrical versions of the film; behind-the-scenes of eight of the gags; six alternate reactions; and deleted scenes. (Paramount Home Media Distribution)
Last Vegas (Blu-ray)
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Entertainment One
Billy, Paddy, Archie and Sam (Michael Douglas, Robert De Niro, Morgan Freeman and Kevin Kline respectively) have been best friends since childhood. When Billy, the group’s sworn bachelor, finally proposes to his thirty-something (of course) girlfriend, the four head to Las Vegas with a plan to stop acting their age and relive their glory days. However, upon arriving, the four quickly realize that the decades have transformed Sin City and tested their friendship in ways they never imagined. The Rat Pack may have once played the Sands and Cirque du Soleil may now rule the Strip, but it’s these four who are taking over Vegas.
Bringing together a group of renowned actors has the potential for greatness, but it's only one ingredient of a recipe for success. The first 20 minutes are quite amusing as the long-time friends playfully insult one another and reject the restraints old age has imposed upon them. But once they're settled in Las Vegas, it gets a little mopey and the jokes become fewer and farther between. That's not to say there still isn't a zinger here and there, but the film's entertainment stock drops steadily as it progresses. Mary Steenburgen is meant to portray this attractive, charismatic lounge singer the guys can't get enough of; however, even though she's charming she just doesn't emit that magnetism. A surprising windfall allows the script to take some liberties that liven up the narrative — it's just not enough.
Special features include: filmmaker commentary; “It’s Going to be Legendary”; “Four Legends”; “The Flatbush Four”; “Shooting in Sin City”; “The Redfoo Party”; and “Supporting Ensemble.” (Entertainment One)
Rush (Blu-ray, DVD & Digital copy)
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Entertainment One
During the sexy and glamorous golden age of Formula 1 racing, two drivers emerged as the best: gifted English playboy James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) and his methodical, brilliant Austrian opponent, Niki Lauda (Daniel Brühl). As they mercilessly clash on and off the Grand Prix racetrack, the two drivers push themselves to the breaking point of physical and psychological endurance, where there’s no shortcut to victory and no margin for error.
While Days of Thunder mostly romanticized NASCAR before transforming the movie into an actual love story, this film repeatedly underlines the dangers of racing and remains focused on one of the '70s most famous rivalries. (Though it does give a nod to its predecessor with the inclusion of “Gimme Some Lovin’” on the soundtrack.) Director Ron Howard finds a suitable balance between the thrilling races and the spiky drama. Hemsworth is very convincing as the tomcat who also knows his way around a race track and Brühl is exceptional as the over-achieving German who makes up for personality with brains.
Special features include: a making-of featurette; deleted scenes; and “The Real Story of Rush.” (Entertainment One)
The War between Men and Women (DVD)
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Paramount Home Media Distribution
Peter (Jack Lemmon), a cartoonist, has successfully avoided marriage for his entire life — until he meets Theresa (Barbara Harris). Peter and Theresa couldn’t be more wrong for one another, but Cupid has a sense of humour and soon the pair finds themselves dangerously close to living happily ever after. If they can overcome flirtatious ex-husbands, clashing lifestyles and Peter’s potential blindness, they might just see their relationship for what it is: true love.
There's been a general consensus that men and women are different in ways that supersede their physical variances, even irreconcilably so in some opinions. For a long time, Peter was of the latter mind. That's why it's so surprising to watch him grow increasingly entwined in a life he never desired and in some ways despised. Theresa's children are each special in their own way, which in the end actually causes them to be more endearing for Peter. The appearance of Theresa's ex-husband invites a whole new facet of complications and humour to their relationship, just before it takes a rather serious turn regarding Peter's vision. Lemmon's general exasperation and bewilderment in this new family environment is well played, as is the dissociation he feels near the end of the film.
There are no special features. (Paramount Home Media Distribution)
Who is Harry Kellerman and Why is he Saying Those Terrible Things about Me? (DVD)
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Paramount Home Media Distribution
Georgie Soloway (Dustin Hoffman), a neurotic songwriter at the peak of his career, can’t seem to love anybody — least of all himself. He becomes increasingly depressed as his delusional paranoia — fueled by a mysterious stranger who has been bad-mouthing him — interferes with all of his relationships. Even his therapist (Jack Warden) can’t seem to help. However, when Georgie meets the eccentric, aspiring actress Allison Densmore (Barbara Harris), he realizes it’s his last chance for love.
This film takes viewers into the very confused world of a manic musician, struggling with his life's distant disappointments. Georgie's delusions are weaved seamlessly into the narrative so that it's often difficult to determine what's real or imaginary. His therapist appears randomly in his dreams, dressed in a variety of costumes and speaking in corresponding accents. The mystery of Harry Kellerman's identity receives an excellent answer in the context of the narrative. In the meantime, Georgie revisits his past relationships in an attempt to identify what went wrong, though the answers seem obvious. Harris portrays an aging, anxious singer to a tee and complements Georgie's character perfectly.
There are no special features. (Paramount Home Media Distribution)
More about The April Fools, Bonnie and Clyde, cloudy with a chance of meatballs 2, the fifth estate, jackass presents bad grandpa
 
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